There are many applications on the market, but the successful ones all start with one thing: a well-researched minimum viable product (MVP) built on a foundation of quantitative data. To do this, strategy has to be at the forefront of all phases of the product development process.
A clear vision of your final product is important, but being too stuck on your vision can also get in the way of building the best product possible. To avoid this, it’s important to root your projects in research, strategy, and modern best practices, like market research, brand concepts, realistic timelines, and competitor analysis.
In this article, we’ll discuss 5 easy ways to leverage strategy in your product development phases by centering it at the forefront of your decision making process.
1. Define your parameters
When you’re building a software solution, you’re going to have limitations or project parameters. Whether it’s budget, timeline, or resources, project parameters define the scope, budget, schedule, and quality of the project.
Project parameters you should consider during application development are:
- Project risks: Potential threats or losses associated with the project. Evaluate the consequences and plan mitigation measures to limit project risks.
- Project goals: Make clear the problems that you need to solve with your initial product, and set realistic KPIs for your product growth to help indicate success to your team and investors.
- Project milestones: Set key indicators along the timeline so that you can gauge your progress and how that relates to the remaining budget.
- Resources: Support systems available for your business can be broken into five categories: financial, human, educational, emotional, and physical resources.
- System architecture: The platforms being used to build your product, and any limitations or constraints that they may have.
- Development stage: Make sure to track the stage of your product and adjust the risks, goals, and milestones as needed as you move from alpha to beta to full release.
2. Be open to your experts (or stake holders)
Whether you’re building internal software, a SaaS product, or a website, seamless communication and team alignment are critical.
To limit technical debt and build a high-performing product that meets your customers’ needs, it’s important to listen to your subject matter experts and have cross-team meetings regularly. A subject matter expert (SME) brings huge value to a project and is often given full ownership of their responsibility.
While design and technical experts are imperative, the most important feedback is from your ideal customer or the project stakeholder for internal projects. You would be surprised how often the perspective of a SME can completely change the conversation and ultimately the product that is created. Regularly bringing together team leaders in cross-team review sessions to review progress and next steps can be the difference between a successful launch and a major refactor.
3. Iterate often
A good idea is great but even the best of concept needs to evolve, and that’s achieved through iteration. Iteration is the process of executing the same steps until a specified goal is met. On the contrary, iteration doesn’t necessarily mean a stream of constant updates. Instead, iterations are about the frequency and evolution of a product. During product development iterations generally happen very rapidly, but as a product matures iterations tend to slow.
In a previous blog, Tragic has compared iteration within the product development process to the allegory of hills and mountains, where steeper “climbs” are required as your product grows with each software release cycle.
Depending on the product and the amount of information known upfront, iterations may be minimal for the initial release or, like for our product Oversight, will require multiple weekly team meetings with constant changes as more information is learned from potential customers and possibilities with the different 3rd party API systems.
4. Leverage user feedback
To build a solution that makes your customers’ lives easier, it’s imperative to collect and assess feedback from your users. Collecting feedback is one thing. Leveraging it is another.
The more you hear from users about your product, the easier it will be to find out what works and doesn’t work for users; so that you can deploy the right features faster.
“If you do not continuously invest in the evolution of your software you will soon find yourself falling behind.”
A few examples of leveraging user feedback include:
- Sending polls to your target audience when in ideation to ensure your product idea is aligned with the needs of your customer
- Use a beta group early to test out your product and provide feedback on what works well and what is missing or frustrating
- Using forms or chatbots to capture information from your product users whether it be bugs or ideas for improvement
- Allow your users to vote on future product ideas
- Maintain a core group of customers to provide feedback and test new features
5. Launch small. Scale fast
Having a big vision is great, as long as it’s rooted in research, strategy, and modern best practices.
Even the best-tested applications will have unseen bugs at launch, so it’s important to release your initial product to a small user group. Launching to a small, trusted group first is a great web or mobile app strategy. This approach allows for a core group of users to interact with your software organically, which will shake out the major bugs more effectively before releasing the product to a wider audience.
Once the kinks are worked out of that group, you can expand your audience more rapidly with confidence.
Build. Test. Feedback. Iterate. Grow.
There are endless pathways to get to your final product, but by defining your parameters, leveraging the feedback of experts and your users, iterating often, and starting small, you’ll be on your way to a strategy-driven product development process.
Want to avoid a product development tragedy? Contact us to learn more about our process for ensuring success.